Glasgow based artist Andrea McIlhatton Cardow specialises in screen printing. Her work looks at the impact of female beauty when contrasted against certain social and cultural portrayals of women. Andrea took some time to tell us about her latest body of work – Le Fleur de Mal, a darker collection born out of lockdown that continues to explore the female body. She also talks about how lockdown has impacted her personally and in artistic capacity, her current influences, plus what she has planned for the year ahead.
“I try to accept lockdown in a positive way. That is, the tragedy of the pandemic is ever present and its impact is profound; it leaves us diminished. It is with acceptance of this that I have sought opportunities within it that would not otherwise have been presented to me that I can embrace in order to continue moving forward and evolving. It is important to me in life not be static; not to be held in a particular time or state of being but to develop and become in ways that I might not have anticipated. I hold this as fundamental. Lockdown has certainly required this. It has necessitated that we embrace different ways to do things, to problem-solve, to reframe situations. So it requires creative thinking – the need to see things in different ways, which drives my work forward.”
Every week Andrea spends hours in her studio and losing access to it throughout different stages of lockdown forced her to explore her practice in different ways. Working from a temporary home studio, with no access to printing facilities, initially felt limiting. But the change of space and the abundance of time, allowed ideas to flow and her latest body of work began to form.
“In March 2020 at the onset of the first lockdown, my thinking was on the series I have been developing, ‘Paper Dolls’ and I have 2 new prints, both completed at this time. These continue the celebration of female beauty contrasted with certain social and cultural portrayals of women that this series explores. While this series will itself continue, it has diverged into the beginning of a new series, which is darker. The lockdown brought physical isolation but it also brought a certain mental and emotional isolation. During this period, I had begun to explore ideas that were perhaps driven by this”.
“When the first lockdown eased in the later part of 2020, I was committed to bringing these [new] ideas to print. This work is the birth of the new series, ‘Les Fleurs du Mal’. It is, to date, represented in 4 prints completed in November 2020 just as my studio was regrettably compelled into another closure. I have continued to develop this series, with new images ready to be subjected to the print process as soon as I can get back into the studio”.
“Much of my inspiration comes from film, music, books and art. What impacts me are works like Charlie Kauffman’s films, David Fincher’s ‘Mank’ highlighting the beauty, excesses and emptiness of Hollywood, Kubric’s ‘The Shining’, Takashi Miike’s ‘Audition’ – from Ryu Murakami’s book and books like Will Self’s ‘Dorian’ and Bret Easton Ellis’s ‘Less Than Zero’. In these there is lyricism, poetry and horror with an intense, ominous atmosphere. There are elements of this juxtaposition of beauty and repulsion of light and darkness of joy and pain in my latest prints. For me, this is the genome of life. Mixed with this, much of what’s happening globally can seem unreal. This creates uncertainty and a sense of fractured reality, or hypernormalisation, where there are ongoing feelings of displacement, disorientation and confusion. In my current work there is this sense of suspended reality or suspended being and an awareness of something untoward”.
Andrea has also started to produce Giclee prints. Working mainly with film stills and a mix of found and personal imagery, She takes the images and manipulates them digitally before reproducing them on coloured plastics. It’s early stages of a relatively new concept for her and we’re intrigued to see how it develops.
“As 2021 progresses I am continuing to work at home grappling with these ideas to make sense of them through the artwork that results and I am hopeful of the studio re-opening at some point and getting back in to re-engage with the amazing people I have met there and to translate the ideas and images I have been developing into new prints”.
You can find all of Andrea’s new work plus her full gallery collection here. As always, thanks for reading!